An Indian court has sentenced four men to death for the gang rape and murder of a student in the capital, Delhi.
Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, Akshay Thakur and Pawan Gupta were convicted on Tuesday of the December attack of the 23-year-old woman, a crime that unleashed a wave of public anger over the treatment of women in India.
I am very happy our girl has got justice
The woman died two weeks after the attack of internal injuries. which led to violent protests across India and new laws against rape.
Judge Yogesh Khanna said on Friday the case fell in the “rarest of rare category and warrants the exemplary punishment of death”, rejecting pleas for lighter sentence.
“In these times, when crime against women is on the rise, the courts cannot turn a blind eye toward such gruesome crimes,” Khanna said in announcing the sentence.
He said the attack “shocked the collective conscience” of India.
The four men faced either life imprisonment or death by hanging.
‘We did our job’
One of the convicted men, 20-year-old Vinay Sharma, broke down in tears as the sentence was announced.
As the news broke, crowds inside the building and outside the courtroom roared with cheers and applauded the judgement.
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The prosecution team congratulated each other, with lead lawyer Dayan Krishnan saying: “We did our job. We are happy with this sentence”.
Like all death sentences, Khanna’s order must be confirmed by India’s High Court. The men can appeal their case to the High Court, as well as to the Supreme Court, and ask the president for clemency.
The victim’s family, along with numerous politicians and government officials, had long called for the men to be executed.
The father of the victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said the family was also satisfied.
“I am very happy our girl has got justice,” he told reporters inside court flanked by his wife and sons.
Earlier, protesters outside the court had demanded that the four men must be hanged.
The case has been closely followed across India, seen as a reflection on rampant mistreatment of women and the government’s inability to deal with crime.